It is a rather shocking headline, but nevertheless true.
In fact, many of our clients come to us after attempting to implement parts of the Inbound Marketing framework (e.g., blogging, social media). They are disappointed and don't know where they went wrong. After asking a few questions and looking into their analytics, their website, and their blog, the causes are easily discovered.
Here are the top 10 reasons why your Inbound Marketing efforts can fail.
Lack Of Executive Buy-In
Inbound Marketing is a change of philosophy, not a bunch of tools.
It requires full commitment from C-Level management and the implementation of organizational changes that comes with it, for example instituting a sensible social media policy, changing incentive programs to foster a culture of knowledge sharing and giving employees the training, time, tools and processes they need to create great quality content.
Without executive buy-in, any Inbound Marketing will produce less than stellar results and end up in frustration.
Lack of internal support of the traditionalists in your marketing team
We run into this all the time: Your marketing team assures you they are doing just fine without a blog. They are tinkering with cross-posting some pictures on social media. They are happily sending email blasts every week to all of your 5,000 contacts in your database. But you as the CEO or VP of Marketing see that this is not working as effectively as you need it to.
To successfully implement an Inbound Marketing strategy, a lot of education and training will be necessary to convince even the last traditionalist of the tremendous benefits this change can bring to the organization. Otherwise, there will be resistance and reverting back to old "tried-and-true" tools like Google Analytics and Constant Contact.
Alignment of all marketing efforts
Aligning all of your company's marketing efforts will not only protect the investment you make in Inbound Marketing, it will nurture it.
For example, if you are running an industry event or an educational webinar, you should use email marketing, blogging, and social media to promote it and call to actions and landing pages to capture the attendees.
Or if you hire a PR agency to reach out to media and key influencers in your industry, your content marketing efforts should assist this campaign.
And your PPC campaign should be based on extensive keyword research and lead to targeted landing pages rather than your homepage or a plain product page with no actionable next step your visitor should take.
No smart goals defined
Your Inbound Marketing Strategy must be based on smart goals. For example, increase traffic, get more leads or run 5 events a year are not smart marketing goals, since they are not specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely.
Without these goals, you cannot measure your progress, track performance of single efforts and analyze which campaigns have the best return on investment.
Inbound Marketing As A Quick Fix
Bad strategy or no strategy is a recipe for disaster. Sometimes Inbound Marketing is implemented as a quick-fix to an existing problem, for example blogging to increase website traffic to an under-performing website that in reality has a lead generation problem.
It requires careful planning, execution, and analysis. Pushing out a bunch of blog posts for 2 months with no buyer persona in mind or conversion opportunities attached, will not get you the results that you are hoping for.
Tactical Reasons for Failure
Neglecting to define buyer personas
People go to the internet for two reasons: to be entertained (e.g., watch a video) or solve a problem (e.g., find a recipe for a quick family friendly dinner, a cure for hair loss or to compare car loan options).
Inbound Marketing uses the latter to draw in customers by answering those queries with helpful and educational content. For that reason, every Inbound Marketing effort starts and ends with researching and defining your buyer personas and the problems or challenges they are trying to solve.
This way you gather intricate knowledge about the customer persona's likes, dislikes, shopping habits, needs, keywords they use to describe the problems, social media preferences, and much more. You will also be able to define the buyer's journey (see below) - the steps everyone goes through to make a purchasing decision. (Want to define your buyer personas? Download our buyer persona worksheet.)
Your communication is not targeted enough
Defining your buyer persona will allow you to tailor your content, your email marketing, social media and blog posts to their interests, needs, and problems.
Imagine you own a pet store. Your buyer persona is Tom, a young dad who is thinking about buying a puppy for his family. Tom will need to research what is involved in caring for a dog, what breed is friendly to kids, what food to feed it and how difficult it will be to house train it (which is a big objection his wife has). He will need more information on the cost involved in buying all the things the dog will need etc.
If you address Tom with content about fish, cats, lizards, mice, hamsters, guinea pigs, oh yes and on dogs, he will be not as interested in your communication.
But image he finds your blog post "How to house train your new puppy", clicks on the call to action below the blog post, downloads the eBook "The Ultimate Guide to Buying A Puppy?" and then getting targeted emails from you to help him along in this buyer's journey.
Not only will Tom purchase more likely from you, but also faster and he will be thrilled with your company!
Jumping The Gun In The Buyer's Journey
Now just imagine how Tom would feel after reading excitedly your blog post about training puppies and then your only call to action is "Buy Now". It is inappropriate as he is still deciding if he wants to get a puppy.
According to Gleastner Research:
- 71-89% of your website traffic is not yet looking to buy anything, but searching for an answer to a question or problem (Tweet This Stat)
- 11-29% of your visitors are evaluating buying criteria (and are not ready to buy yet) (Tweet This Stat)
- Up to 18% are evaluating vendors and are ready to buy
In essence, 1 out of 4 leads you generate are ready to buy in the next 12 – 24 months; the other 75% need nurturing.
This means if you have to offer content that addresses problems early in the buyer's journey in a format that allows your leads to learn self-paced without your direct involvement.
Not enough relevant conversion opportunities
Closely related to the last one, is not offering enough relevant opportunities for your visitor to convert into leads.
Recently I had a conversation with a prospect who had good targeted traffic to his website, but his visitor to customer conversion rate was 0.1%! I suggested to add more top-of the funnel call to actions in addition to his already existing "Request A Quote" as most visitors are not ready to take that next step.
He challenged me by asking if that would not take away from his other call the action. The truth is, probably yes. If the only call to action you have is a very bottom of the funnel button to request a quote, chances are that you will have many visitors click on it to see what the questions are, but not actually follow through answering all of them and then drop off.
He was surprised and said this is exactly what is happening.
So, by offering checklists, whitepapers and even customer case studies early on, you are educating the people who have not yet decided to go ahead with the solution that your company is offering. And you have the chance to nurture them along the way.
Not producing enough quality content on a consistent basis
Last but certainly not least: Not producing enough quality content on a consistent basis is the most common problem we see with prospects that come to us.
Inbound Marketing is presenting the right content to the right people at the right time but here is how you will fail:
- Spikes in Blogging Activity: Blogging is not a on and off thing. You should be producing at least 1, but better 2 or 3 quality blog posts per week, every week. If you are going on vacation, make sure to schedule blog posts ahead of time or have another co-worker cover for you in your absence.
- Stale Premium Content: There is no question that producing eBooks, whitepapers and checklists is difficult and time-consuming but necessary. If you have nailed that blog post and excited a reader just to lead them to an outdated or stale piece of content, you are missing out. Producing a new piece of premium content at least every month or two will ensure you are making the most out of the traffic reaching your website.
- Outdated Website Content: Many companies just focusing on their blog and social media while neglecting their website content. Broken links and outdated information leads to frustration and will increase your bounce rate.
- Quality of content is sub-par: We all need to get that blog post out on time and hit publish too soon. Companies without a proper review and editing process in place will end up with lots of spelling and grammatical mistakes, which is an indication for Google for a low-quality website and will effect your search engine rankings. But your human visitors also will notice those errors and question the integrity of your company.
Inbound Marketing is not a magic pill - it needs strategic planning, integration into the entire organization and careful execution. Make sure you are able and willing to implement Inbound Marketing before making the investment.